Below is the text from the speech that head coach John Calipari gave to the Big Blue Madness crowd on Friday at Rupp Arena.
Tonight, we stand in a place of history as we celebrate the beginning of this program’s 113th season.
Eight national titles and the jerseys of 43 Kentucky basketball legends hang in these rafters. It’s a building named after Mr. Kentucky Basketball, Adolph Rupp. I am honored and proud to be in the seat he created.
We’re the winningest program in the history of college basketball. We’ve won more NCAA Tournament games than any school in the country. We have been and will continue to be the gold standard in college basketball.
You all know that playing at Kentucky is about being on the biggest of big stages. Playing here is like performing at Carnegie Hall. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
Because of our national following, everything we do is on national television. From practices to scrimmages and exhibition games, even pro day. The Big Blue Nation fills opposing gyms, whether we’re in Tennessee, California, Hawaii or the Bahamas. You fans give us an advantage in every game.
Like you, I want to win every single game I coach. In six years, we’ve won more games than any other team in the country, we’ve been to more Final Fours than any other program, and in the SEC the last six years, we’ve won more games and more titles than any other school. And let’s not forget that 2012 national championship.
But my goal … our goal … is to help these kids chase their dreams. They are the reason we hang those national championship banners. They are the individuals we retire jerseys for. They are the reason why thousands of you camp out for a week each year to celebrate them on this night.
If we continue to focus on their dreams, our program and school will prosper like no other. If we make sure these kids eat first, we’ll have more than we can ever eat.
Let’s stay focused on who we are and be proud of it.
Kentucky encourages players to chase their genius. We want them to explore the outer limits of their talents and abilities, and leave us without regrets.
What does the future hold for Kentucky basketball? You’re looking at it right here with this team.
This season will be a process. Nothing happens overnight.
I want these guys to worry about pleasing each other, not worry about pleasing me. They also have to play with a curious mind so they can improve even more than they thought they could.
Most importantly, they have to have more fun than any other team in the country, playing together and growing together, IF they want to be the last team standing. I believe in this group.
From Pat Riley, Louie Dampier, Dan Issel and Kenny “Sky” Walker. Jamal Mashburn, Tony Delk, Tayshaun Prince and Rajon Rondo. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, MKG and Anthony Davis. Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein.
Who wants to be next?
This team wants to be next!
And hopefully some other people in this building.